Balbharati’s arbitrary license policy draws flak; Publishers association writes to CM for relief from ‘Royalty’ charges
Mumbai, June 4, 2018: The non-availability of supplementary workbooks and guidebooks, owing to arbitrary decision of Balbharati to levy license fee on publishers, is set to jeopardize the fate of lakhs of city SSC board students.
The license policy stands to impact lakhs SSC students in Maharashtra, who will be affected due to non-availability of the Guides, Notes and workbooks and other reference materials.
It may be noted that on May 25, 2018, Balbharati, the Maharashtra State Bureau of Textbook Production & Curriculum Research, unilaterally announced the licensing policy for publishing of all books for Standard I to X.
The publishers’ body has sought intervention of the Chief Minister, Mr. Devendra Fadnavis, alleging that the Balbharti’s policy “is being implemented in haste, non-transparent manner and without considering the views of the publishers.”
The Publishers’ Association shot off a letter to the CM, is demanding that the proposed policy be put on hold for this academic year.
The publishers’ body is protesting Balbharati’s license policy, which they say has come too late, resulting in confusion among publishers.
“First of all, The Publishers believe that they don’t violate copyright infringement as they don’t replicate the textbooks. The questions are taken from the textbooks and answers given are the respective Authors own representation of the topic. Moreover, additional question-answers, grammar activities, practice problems and solutions etc. matter is created to give a complete coverage of the topic,” said Deepak Sheth, Secretary, Association of Publishers & Distributers.
There are a total of 30-45 publishers across Maharashtra to publish supplementary materials, workbooks and guidebooks for the benefit and reference of SSC students. The books are printed in English, Marathi, Hindi, and Urdu for schools across Tier I, II, III cities and towns in the state.
In its letter to the Chief Minister, the association has complained, “The association members had represented the authorities based on Balbharati’s advertisement on March 9, 2018. Unfortunately, none of our suggestions seem to have been taken or heard.”
Explaining their stand on the issue, the association members have said, “More than 85-90 per cent of the publishers’ print run is between 3, 000-5, 000 copies per annum. This (license fee) means that the cost of such supplementary books will increase by Rs.15- Rs.25, making it unaffordable for parents and students.”
“Smaller publishers will have to bear the brunt the most and especially those publishing books in Urdu and Hindi. Many are considering completely stopping publishing books in these languages due to cost constraints,” said Deepak Sheth, Secretary, Association of Publishers & Distributers.
The association members have also pointed out the arbitrary manner in which Balbharati will allow or refuse or revoke license to publishers, stating that it can result in unhealthy practices in the licensing process.
The association has requested the CM to intervene with the following suggestions- implementation of the license policy from next academic year after considering trade practices, automation of license process to avoid unhealthy practices and to charge reasonable license fee depending on the medium and standard.
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